Ethics and Gay Marriage For many people today the topic of gay marriage creates ethical controversy. When dealing with matters concerning ethics people often have passionate feelings. Simply put, ethics are the concern of what is morally right or wrong. According to the author of the textbook, The Philosophical Journey, “in ethics, we are concerned with what we ought to do, what consequences ought to be achieved, and what sort of persons we ought to become. ” (Lawhead 418) It is an issue that sparks protests and public demonstrations in favor of and against.
Same sex relationships in Colorado have always been considered to be taboo. Many oppose gay marriage and the rights of homosexuals as evidenced by the state laws pertaining to gay marriage. Amendment 43 of the Colorado State Constitution clearly states “marriage is a union between a man and a woman. ” (www. laws. com) This statement can only be interpreted in one way, but does it demonstrate human compassion, freedom or democracy? Same sex marriages are prohibited by Colorado law. One of the major philosophies that keep Amendment 43 in the state constitution is the divine command theory.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
In this paper I will present to the class (Philosophy 111-102) a philosophical analysis of the rightness or wrongness of gay marriage and how the divine command theory has played a role in Colorado law making and discrimination. According to our text book, The Philosophical Journey, “the divine command theory is the theory that the rightness or wrongness of an action is intrinsically related to the fact that God either commands it or forbids it”. (Lawhead 419) In other words, the Bible has objective knowledge about the issue at hand and cannot be questioned. This philosophy has been inherited from our country which claims the U.
S. A. is a Christian country. Therefore, all the states within this country are Christian as well. Even though Colorado is a Christian state whose laws were formulated with the divine command theory in mind there are signs in our communities that show that the legal system have considered their laws could be unjust. For example in Colorado, “gay couples can enter into a designated beneficiary agreement which entitles them to certain benefits regarding funeral arrangements and retirement plan disbursements. In addition, partners can receive death benefits and inherit property. ” (www. aws. com) This shows that law makers have evaluated the moral principles of their laws and have deemed gay marriage laws questionable or unjust. In response to this they then made changes to rectify the shortcomings or unjustness of the legal system. Nonetheless, the divine command theory influenced much of early America, but is it still justified to use this theory as our countries personal philosophy. Many believe that the divine command theory cannot answer all of the questions of the world and believe that ethical theory can be derived independently of religious assumptions.
The first question that arises when considering the divine command theory is the lack of agreement as to which religious text or authority should guide our ethical deliberations. Right now in Colorado the population’s religious affiliation breaks down into the following categories: 64% Christian, 2% Jewish, 1% Muslim, 5% other religions and 25% unaffiliated. With this kind of diversity one can easily image the confrontations that could arise while debating the issue. So who is to say what is right and wrong in a community that is derived from numerous races, religions, sexes and orientations.
The only truth to be obtained concerning same sex marriage is subjective and is considered conventional ethical relativism. Conventional ethical relativism is “the claim that what is really right or wrong is relative to each particular society. ” (Lawhead 427) Each affiliation or group in Colorado would have to act independently of each other. To find an ultimate truth of the matter, all would have to come together and agree on what philosophy will be accepted. This is very unlikely to ever happen because one religion or group would have to submit and acknowledge an enhanced philosophy.
Will our local or state governments ever be able to keep everyone happy? The answer is no, there are simply too many individual needs to satisfy in our communities. The second problem concerning the divine command theory is that even if we agree to live under the guidance of a particular religious tradition, we may disagree as to how to interpret the Bible. For instance, Christians make up 64% of Colorado’s population and can be broken down into but not limited to the following sub-groups: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant.
Each sub-group has a particular interpretation of the Bible that is conducive to their philosophy about life. Philosophies concerning ethics have different branches just as philosophies concerning religion do. For example, according to the Philosophical Journey utilitarianism is “the theory that the right action is the one that produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. ” Another branch of philosophy concerning ethic is Kantian ethics. This philosophy involves “the theory that we have moral duties that are determined by reason and that are not affected by the consequences. (Lawhead 427-428) There are a number of other positions and after reviewing these positions I was left with a question; how do these positions relate to gay marriage? A true democratic state such as Colorado would have to take a stance that allows for its citizens to enjoy liberty and freedom. So which philosophy should the state use? It seems to me that Colorado as a state falls under utilitarianism by choosing a path that produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. For that reason gay marriage is still illegal in this state.
Christians are the largest portion of the population in Colorado and many Christian followers are opposed to same sex marriage because of God’s forbiddance of it. Does the Bible teach sound ethical values? I believe it does. I also believe that God acknowledges sin in the world and want us to suspend judgment of our neighbors. The final dilemma I will cover regarding the divine command theory is that some ethical questions cannot be answered by traditional religious teachings apart from philosophical considerations.
God’s word definitely opposes same sex marriage in the book of Leviticus 20:13, “if a man also lies with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. ” This passage clearly demonstrates the philosophy of God and same sex relations. Even though God forbids gay relations, does he tell us to judge our neighbors engaged in this life style? With the state of Colorado in mind what is the proper stance to take concerning this issue? The stance that the state has already taken is clearly not the correct one for a democratic state.
It is denying human rights to a portion of its population that continues to grow. Furthermore, the book of Mark says “And the second is like, namely this, THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. There is none other commandment greater than these. ” (Mark 12:31KJV) These are the actual words of God and clearly tell us to love everyone without judgment. Has the Christian population forgotten or overlooked this passage? It seems evident that it has, since there are laws against same sex marriage in this state. Kantian ethics demonstrate a sound philosophy that could help our state eliminate discrimination.
Kantian ethics are “the theory that we have absolute moral duties that are determined by reason and that are not affected by the consequences. ” (Lawhead 428) This philosophy suggests we have things that we do that are a matter of morals and do not consider consequences. I agree with Kant philosophy regarding this matter. The issue of gay marriage is one of morals or ethics. Simply put, gays and lesbians are being discriminated against in Colorado. They are being denied human rights that no other portion of the population is being denied. It is morally wrong to deny any human their rights in a country or state such as ours.
Yes, God does command that man should not lay with another man in the same way that man lays with a woman. However, he tells us to love they neighbor as we love ourselves. I believe judgment of those considered to be sinners should be left to God and our duty has human should be in line with Kantian ethics. Love and compassion is what every human in our state deserve. As the community of this state we should simply make available the Holy Scriptures but we cannot make everyone read them and we cannot forsake those who choose to live under a different philosophy than the Bible.
Colorado is not the only state in our nation that has made an error in the formulation of laws. However, Colorado is our state, where our community resides and a need for dramatic change is evident. Colorado has followed the philosophies of utilitarianism and the divine command theory and they have has influenced the state so that discrimination and denial of human rights have become the norm. As I said before, I believe that God does not want us to judge our neighbor but rather love they neighbor. Gay marriage in our community continues to be one that involves passionate and controversial feelings.
Are these feeling a result of misinterpretations or plays on words to make religious philosophy conducive to particular groups? Even though marriage in Colorado is currently only for “a man and a woman” there are signs that look to be promising. Allowing for same sex couples to benefit from marriage just has the other lifelong couples in the society. Hopefully now I have given the class (Philosophy 111-102) some perspective into the rightness and wrongness of gay marriage and how the divine command theory has played a role in Colorado law making and discrimination.